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Fast Break: Complete C’s take apart Sixers 04.05.11 at 9:49 pm ET
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The Celtics and Sixers met Tuesday night in what was very likely a playoff preview. The Celtics won an entertaining game, 99-82, which allowed them to slip back into a tie with the Heat for second place in the Eastern Conference. If these two teams do meet in the playoffs, don’t expect a free-flowing game like they played in the first half.

The Celtics were finally able to put together a complete game after locking down on defense and running away with it in the fourth quarter. Good signs all around for the C’s.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Rajon Rondo is back: Doc Rivers was asked before the game if he thought his point guard had turned the corner. Rivers answered emphatically that he thought that was the case. Rondo started slowly against the Sixers and allowed his counterpart Jrue Holliday to get off quickly with 11 points in the first quarter. But Rondo changed course and finished the first half with 12 points and nine assists. He also drove to the basket at will and finished at the rim en route to a 16-point, 13-assist performance. Holiday meanwhile finished with just those 11 points.

Jermaine O’Neal as a starter: Rivers made the decision to keep O’Neal in the starting lineup and have Nenad Krstic come off the bench. His rationale is that Krstic will assume a reserve role in the playoffs, no matter which of the O’Neals is starting. Jermaine O’Neal offers a stronger defensive presence at the beginning of games and Krstic could fit nicely with Glen Davis and Jeff Green in a rotation. O’Neal had his strongest game since his return with nine points and three rebounds, while Krstic had eight points and six rebounds. That’s a good night from the centers.

Kevin Garnett is ready: If there is one huge difference between this year’s Celtics team and last, it’s that there is no question that Garnett is healthy and ready for the playoffs. He started the game by going into the post twice and took five shots in the first four and a half minutes. Garnett has been the Celtics most consistent players since the All-Star break and that is a major difference as they head into the postseason.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Defense takes a break: The Celtics allowed 50 points and 50 percent shooting in the first half. They allowed 32 in the second half. It’s been a while since they locked down like that in the second half.

Jeff Green with an up and down night: Green had only one shot through the first three quarters. In the fourth, the Celtics made a concerted effort to get him going as he played in a lineup with Delonte West, Ray Allen, Davis and Krstic. That’s a good fit for him as he can be the featured offensive player in that group and he wound up with eight points, seven rebounds and a couple of highlight-level plays.

Ray Allen still needs more shots: Allen played an invaluable role with the reserve units in the rotation, but he had only seven shots. Allen made five of them and finished with 13 points, which speaks to his efficiency. He also oddly missed two free throws on illegal defense technicals. He had made 44 of his last 45 free throws coming into the game.

Read More: 76ers, Celtics, Fast Break,
Preview: Philadelphia at Boston, Game 27 12.22.10 at 10:35 am ET
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Up until Tuesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers were cruising right along with a nice little winning run at their backs. They had gone 8-3 in their last 11 games and taken four of the last five. Then, the Bulls happened. The Sixers lost by an astounding 45 points and allowed the Bulls to shoot 65 percent.

In Kate Fagan’s piece in the Inquirer, Andre Iguodala said it was a wake-up call, while coach Doug Collins called it one of those nights. Both of them have a point.

The truth is, the Sixers are not a bad basketball team. They might even wind up being quite good by the end of the season. For now, they have rebounded from a terrible start to become merely decent, which in the top-heavy Eastern Conference is good enough to be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

This has been quite a turnaround since starting the season by winning three of their first 16 games. It’s not hard to see Collins’ imprint all over this team. The key has been defense where the Sixers rank fifth (down from second after Tuesday’s debacle) in effective field goal percentage defense, a stat which accounts for the difference between two and 3-point shots.

The Sixers are not a very good offensive team, but they don’t turn the ball over and there is evidence that they are playing smarter: Thaddeus Young has almost completely cut out his penchant for taking (and missing) 3-pointers, for example.

In addition, Collins seems to have defined roles for his collection of young talent. He turned the team over to second-year point guard Jrue Holiday, who is learning on the job but showing good signs of development, and moved Lou Williams to the bench, where he can create offense for the second unit and provide a nice reserve combination along with Young.

Collins also took No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner out of the starting lineup, where he was horribly overmatched, and replaced him with Jodie Meeks, a 3-point shooter. The Sixers responded by going 6-2 and Meeks immediately went on a tremendous hot streak making, making 15-of-23 from beyond the arc, but he has since cooled hitting just four of his last 25 attempts.

But by far the biggest change for the Sixers has come from Elton Brand. He may never justify the ridiculous five-year, $80 million contract Ed Stefanski gave him after missing almost an entire season because of an Achilles injury — oddly enough, Brand proceeded to miss 53 games in the first of his new deal — but he has played well this season, averaging better than 15 points and eight rebounds a game.

That’s a far cry from Brand’s salad days with the Clippers where he put up almost 25 points and 10 rebounds in 2006, but five years ago Kevin Garnett was still in Minnesota and Ray Allen was still a Sonic. There were still Sonics, period. Times change.

The Sixers are still in the discovery stage. To Iguodala’s point, they managed to beat a handful of decent, but not great, teams during their streak in Portland, New Orleans and the trade-depleted Orlando Magic. Their losses came by eight points against the Lakers, one point against the Celtics and five at Atlanta, so they were playing competitively against the better teams. But mainly they’ve fattened up on so-so competition.

Still, Collins said when he took the job that his goal was to get the Sixers heading in the right direction and he is off to a solid start. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 76ers, Celtics, Preview,
76ers minus two 11.25.09 at 7:54 pm ET
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The Sixers are without starting point guard Lou Williams and power forward Elton Brand for Wednesday night’s game with the Celtics.

Williams suffered a fractured jaw in their game Tuesday with Washington, while Brand has been struggling with a sore hamstring. Rookie Jrue Holiday will start in place of Williams and Jason Smith gets the nod for Brand.

Read More: 76ers, Elton Brand, Lou Williams,
Celtics-76ers Preview 11.24.09 at 10:28 pm ET
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Philadelphia has been riddled with mediocrity all season. The Celtics are fighting with it right now.

At 7:30 p.m., the Celtics (10-4) will play host to the 76ers (5-9) in a collision of two teams that have been struggling of late ‘€“ though Philly’€™s struggles suggest more far-reaching problems than do Boston’€™s. Despite the skewed skill levels, records and anything else that might separate a 10th-place Philly team from a playoff-bound Boston club, Friday night’€™s game carries a decent amount of intrigue ‘€“ especially from the Boston perspective.

Of late, the Celtics have seemingly lost some of the swagger that they displayed during a 6-0 start. After dropping two straight to the Hawks and Pacers, Boston seemed to get back on track against Golden State in what was a pretty convincing win. But another slip-up against the Magic and an overtime buzzer-beating win against the 3-10 Knicks have made it appear that the Celtics are not in sync.

Center Kendrick Perkins attributed it to a lack of focus. But regardless of what’€™s been plaguing them, the Celtics need to improve ‘€“ and what better team to straighten things out against then the 76ers? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 76ers, Andre Iguodala, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett
Postgame News and Notes: Celtics vs. 76ers 11.28.08 at 8:48 pm ET
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GAME RECAP: BOSTON CELTICS 102 – PHILADELPHIA 76ers 78

Last season the Boston Celtics added two All-Stars and got out to one of the hottest starts in basketball. This season the Philadelphia 76ers added one All-Star and still haven’t figured out how to win with him. On Friday night Elton Brand posed no problem for the Celtics as they dismantled the 76ers 102-78. This loss wasn’t Brand’s fault, though. The 76ers as a whole failed to help and the Celtics took advantage of this struggling team.

  • Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined for 38 points (16-27 FG). Paul Pierce added just six (1-6 FG). “We ran a few plays for Ray, noticed he had the hot hand and that’s what we try to do,” Pierce said. “Ray is really shooting lights out as of late so the guys around him were doing a good job of getting him open and he’s knocking shots down.”
  • The 76ers are looking to learn from the Celtics cohesiveness. “They’re a very good team, well coached team,” said Andre Miller. “They play well together. You have to tip your hats to them. We should take something from this and move onto the next game.”
  • Last season Miller flustered Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. Tonight Rondo got the best of the veteran PG, posting 6 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds to Miller’s 12 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Rondo’s ball handling kept his teammates on point and his 12 dimes proved to be more valuable than Miller’s 12 points.

The Celtics (15-2) are leaving tonight for Charlotte, where they will take on the Bobcats on Saturday night. The 76ers (7-9) play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

Read More: 76ers, Andre Miller, Celtics, Elton Brand
Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers 11.27.08 at 10:01 pm ET
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On Friday night the Boston Celtics (14-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-8) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The 76ers were expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after acquiring Elton Brand this summer, but so far they have yet to pose a threat. The Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak while the 76ers have lost their last two.

In the last five games …
Over the last five games the Celtics have averaged the third most points in the NBA (108 ppg), the 76ers are posting the third least (90.4 ppg). The 76ers have the highest rebounding differential in the league (+6.33) for the season but the Celtics have outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight boards in the past five contests.

Front Court
The match up to watch will be Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand. The big men have seen each other plenty of times in the Western Conference and now they are two of the best in the East. Brand gives the 76ers a legitimate option in the post, something they’ve been lacking of over the years, and they don’t have to rely as much on their running game.

‘€œYou know they’re going to play hard, you know they’re going to crash the boards,’€ Garnett said. ‘€œBut having that range from the floor makes them [multi-dimensional]. They’re able to go pick-and-pop. Andre Miller can string out the defense a little bit and throw it back and Elton can hit all the way up to 19-feet jumpers.’€

Back Court
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has made it clear on several occassions that Andre Miller is one of his favorite point guards in the league. Now many are saying the same about Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.

‘€œThe problems we’€™ve had with Philly in the past, last year we struggled with them because of the Andre Miller problem,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œYou know, at the point, with his size. I think Rondo’€™s better suited to handle that this year, and so he’€™s going to have to.’€

Rondo’s fearless hustle has garnered praise from teammates and opponents alike. He enters Friday’s game on a hot streak after scoring 22 points against the Golden State Warriors. See how Rondo and Miller stacked up in the past five games:

Rajon Rondo: 29.2 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 55.7% FG
Andre Miller: 36.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 42.3% FG

Keep an Eye On …
The obvious scoring options on the 76ers are Brand and Andre Iguodala. This season, however, versatile forward Thaddeus Young is emerging in Philly. Young is quietly averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds, catching the attention of Garnett.

‘€œA lot of people don’t really talk about him but Thaddeus Young, I think, is having an exceptional year,’€ Garnett said. ‘€œHe’s hitting threes, he’s been able to come off picks … and he’s aggressive. Just some of the games that I’ve seen, when they win it’s because he’s playing really well.’€

Read more on Young here.

The Bottom Line
‘€œI think they ran a lot more this year than last year,’€ said Paul Pierce. ‘€œThey’re good in transition with Iguodala but I think now that they’ve added Brand to the dimension, they’re more built I think for the playoffs. They have early struggles, I think they’re a better team than their record has really shown as they get used to one another, but definitely they’re capable of scoring 100 points. But we’ve got our work cut out for us again defensively.’€

Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-76ers match up.

Read More: 76ers, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Celtics
Sounds of the game… Celtics-Sixers post 10.09.08 at 12:34 am ET
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The Celtics opened their eight-game preseason slate with a road game in, of all places, UMass on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Cs lost the game, 98-92, despite leading by as manny as 14, 65-51, midway through the third. The team was without head coach Doc Rivers, who was tending to a personal family matter and backup point guard Sam Cassell, who was tending to a family emergency. Here’s a sampling of what they players and coaches had to say about the contest and Bill Walker’s highlight film dunks in the second quarter.

Acting head coach Tom Thibodeau summed up his team’s performance in the preseason opener.

Thibodeau on the young cast of characters, led by airwalking Bill Walker, with two spectacular dunks in the second quarter.

Bill Walker on the electrifying dunks.

Eddie House said it was good to get out on the court for a game.

Kevin Garnett said it was fun to see everyone out there on the court.

Garnett said Bill Walker is special.

Garnett said there was lots of energy in the Mullins Center building for this game.

Paul Pierce said there were lots of positives to draw from Wednesday night.

Read More: 76ers, Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
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